Thursday, June 24, 2010

From Ballet to Baseball

A year ago, in the spring of 2009, Matthew decided that he wanted to play baseball (t-ball, really) instead of the soccer that he'd played for the previous two spring sessions.  We were happy to oblige, because baseball is such a lifelong sport that would be great for him to learn.  So we signed him up.  And then watched him basically ignore everything he was supposed to be learning.  Instead of watching the ball when he was standing at first base, he sat on the base and looked for dandelions or bugs to examine.  When he was playing the 'outfield,' he practised various and intricate series of ballet moves (he called them valet moves back in '09) that he'd learned from a little friend of his; attempting to catch a ball was clearly a secondary priority for him, or perhaps not even that high on the list of priorities.  When the coach called for the kids' attention, Matthew was the one trailing at the end of the line, and then only after the coach had called his name three or four names.

Though we were silent about our despair in front of Matthew, Geoff and I did wonder privately (between bouts of laughter as we watched his pirouettes and arabesques) if he would ever evidence an interest in baseball...or any other sport, for that matter.  No one was more surprised than us when Matthew announced this spring that he would again like to play baseball.  When we asked him if he was sure, he said that he loved baseball and that he couldn't wait.  Taking a cue from my brother, who is of the opinion that kids need to be exposed to sports for several years before they will translate interest into any level of skill, we duly signed him up for a second year this spring.  Yesterday was his last game of the season.

And what a different season this was from last year.  Matthew was a kid on fire for baseball!  For a six year old kid, he showed a really great aptitude, I think.  No more ballet in the field for this kid!  No more dandelion hunts.  No more half-hearted attempts to follow his coach's lead; when coach Craig called, Matthew was off like a shot, practically ready to throw the coach a salute.  He stood on guard at first base with his eyes glued on the batter and ball, and stood poised to throw that ball home when it came to him.  His throwing has improved about one hundred fold.  I've been totally shocked by how far and precisely he can suddenly throw the ball this year; every week he can throw farther and more accurately.  Most important, it's been great seeing him have so much fun and putting so much effort into it - and it was a lot of fun for Geoff and me, too, especially when we helped out at whatever base we were needed (to make sure the kids knew where they were going!).

Next year, if he wants to play baseball again, I'll be all over it, too!

In the ready position...and waiting for the ball to come his way:

Batter up!

Pre-game strategy session with the coach (we heard them talking about how many freezies they'd get after the game):

Winding up...

...and putting his all into the throw!

Getting ready to head out to the bases (note: Matthew is second in line behind the coach, rather than lagging behind somewhere, or lying down enjoying a rest from all of the hard work):

Here, coach Craig is having the kids put up their right hands (some of them have a little trouble identifying which hand that is!) so that they can get ready to slap hands with the opposing team, and congratulate them on a good game:

Here's my little honey:

* Thank you for your comments - and yes, I, too, LOVE the photo of his throwing the ball, and the whole-body effort that he puts into it!  Sheldon, Matthew (and Geoff and I) loved having you and Hilary out to one of his baseball games last week.  When we went to his last game yesterday, he was looking for you guys!  I think he liked having an audience that was more than 'just' Geoff and me.  Thanks again for being there.  You guys are so great with kids...I can hardly wait til you're home with your own and we're coming to YOUR kids' baseball games someday.


  1. We quite much enjoyed coming out and watching him a couple weeks ago. I'm glad to hear that he had a good time. Now let's see how he'll do next season in hockey :)

  2. Oh, baseball's the best! Glad he's enjoying it so much :)

  3. My favorite photo is the one of Matthew throwing the ball and following through with his whole body. I LOVE that photo. I'm so happy to hear that he grew out of the little boy who didn't listen to coach and who wanted to chase bugs or pick grass during the practice or game. That is where we are right now with 3-year-old John. He doesn't care about the ball or running or scoring. He wants to pick grass and run it over to me to "share". He wants to push the other children to get the ball away from them. He wants to make the coach smile so he tells jokes instead of following directions. And, yes, the coach smiles. Johnny is everyone's favorite. He's the smallest, not the youngest, the one who says "can I help you coach?", the one who helps the child up (after he pushes him down), the one who runs to each parent and says "how are you doing?" with his cute little voice. I want him to make millions for his mommy by playing ball, by being a switch-hitter and star pitcher or short-stop or first-base-man. I should really focus on him playing and smiling and laughing and loving to be with other people and learning to be with other people and wanting to explore and share and make people smile.

    Thank you for your lovely post. Your son is delightful. I wish we could travel to see one of his games. He could be a great mentor to my little munchkin. (: